Fishery Smackdown: Cod vs. Croaker
As water temperatures rise and southern species become more common in New England's waters, there's the question of whether they could replace the region’s iconic cod - ecologically, economically, and culturally.
Atlantic croaker is one such interloper. Croaker is the target of a lucrative fishery stretching from the Gulf of Mexico to the nearshore waters of New Jersey, and it's starting to show up here in New England. Dr. Michael Fogarty, Chief of the Ecosystem Assessment Program at the Northeast Fisheries Science Center, says croaker is the best bet for a cod stand-in, should climate change necessitate such a thing.
Of course, for croaker to supplant cod, it would not only need to fulfill cod's role in the ecosystem, it would need to support a fishery. Catching the fish is only half the picture; there also has to be a market for fishermen's harvest. And food markets are tied up in our regional cultural identity, as well as our individual tastes.
Could Atlantic croaker replace Atlantic cod in New England? You be the judge. Get to know both cod and croaker a little bit better. Then tell us, which would you choose?
What scientists call it: Gadus morhua
Where it lives: In the western Atlantic, from Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, to Greenland; and in the eastern Atlantic, from the northern coast of Spain, north into the Arctic.
What it sounds like: Believe it or not, cod make noises. In fact, researchers at the Northeast Fisheries Science Center are investigating the utility of tracking cod vocalizations as a fishery management tool. Hear for yourself.
What it tastes like: Cod is a mild, delicate white fish. But we all know that, don't we? Cape Cod Fish Share suggests
What scientists call it: Micropogonius undulatus
Where it lives: Along the Atlantic coast of the U.S., from the Gulf of Mexico to Massachusetts.
What it sounds like: Croaker is named for the "drumming" sounds it makes with its swim bladder. Have a listen. And thanks to PaintballOO7 (at least, that's how he/she is known on YouTube) for this audio clip.
What it tastes like: According to Seafood Source, "croaker is lean and full flavored, with an almost sweet taste. The flesh is firm, similar to that of black drum. The skin is edible." New Egland Aquarium says it is often fried, broiled, or baked, and offers these recipe ideas:
- Roasted croaker with braised collard greens and Johnny Cakes
- Crispy croaker with red onion marmalade.
I'm feeling more southern already.